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18 vehicles, trailers removed from camp as Sacramento grapples with homeless crisis

There were more than 100 people using and living in those vehicles and trailers along Commerce Circle and Lathrop Way.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 18 vehicles and trailers that were being used, and in some case lived in by the homeless in a North Sacramento Industrial Loop, have been towed after 160 in the area were found to be in violation of state and local vehicle code, according Sacramento city officials.

There were more than 100 people living in those vehicles and trailers along Commerce Circle and Lathrop Way where they were tagged, according to those who have been living at the camp.

Alice’a Stanley, 46, has been homeless for a year and a half, living the whole time with her 7-year-old and 14-year-old daughters. She lives in a trailer that is not capable of moving.

“I’m a single mom. I’m not drug addicted. I’m not mental health. I just need help,” Stanley said.

She and others who live at the camp say they’re frustrated that homeless have few places to go and are often swept from one place to another.

Officials allowed her trailer and operable car to remain Monday, but towed a car she had planned to sell to pay for Christmas gifts. Stanley said she could not find the key when officials towed the vehicle.

People were notified last week by code enforcement and vehicle tags that the vehicles were in violation and would need to be moved, said Tim Swanson, a spokesperson with the City of Sacramento.

Under California law a vehicle that is abandoned, immobile or inoperable, has six months expired registration, or is left parked on a public street for more than 72 hours may be removed from the street after a code enforcement officer tags the vehicle for removal. The vehicle owners have 72 hours to move the vehicle, unless it is a hazard, in which case it may be immediately removed.

A majority of the vehicles were moved on their own Monday, when code enforcement returned. As many as 40 remained and the city ordered 18 towed.

The city’s code enforcement division has six officers dedicated to the vehicle removal program full-time, and as many as 10 others who help with the program part-time, the city’s code enforcement manager Jose Mendez said in an October interview.

The removal program is focused on removing dangerous vehicles from the roadways, Mendez said. He said the division focuses on education rather than enforcement.

During the public health emergency brought on by coronavirus, Sacramento City code enforcement officers have been directed to allow occupied vehicles to remain unless they are hazardous.

Code enforcement officer Alexandria Gonzalez said she will attempt to contact the vehicle or trailer owner multiple times before towing it.

“Trying to inform them more, if we can talk to them and they’re occupying a vehicle, like, 'Hey, we are getting complaints. Are you able to move it?” Gonzalez said.

Code enforcement is not shifting its tactics regarding abandoned vehicles, Swanson said. Code enforcement has investigated more than 22,000 complaints of abandoned vehicles just this year, according to city data.

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